‘It’s a Teenage Mental Health Crisis!’
We all know that many children and young people’s mental wellbeing have deteriorated during the lockdown. The Guardian newspaper had an article on 29.01.21 calling it a ‘teenage mental health crisis‘. One big question is “how can I help?”
A year ago, the Flourish Project was delivered by facilitators going into schools, youth organisation and sports clubs and then – COVID-19. We took the contents of the facilitator-led course, including its video assets and activities, and have created Flourish Online. Working with a skilled IT programmer, we have worked to develop a range of interactions, videos and games, all tailored to young people aged 10-13 years. These make up the 8-week course which is accessed via a secure online portal. We’ve built into the programme assessments of the pupils’ mental wellbeing and happiness at the start and end of the course, so that progress can be measured. All of the activities included within the interactive sessions are aimed at improving mental wellbeing and self-esteem, building resilience and giving tools to young people to help them develop life-skills in these areas. Each week takes about 30-40 minutes. It’s ideal for remote learning or to be used by groups in ICT suites, and it is fun! Schools are under great pressure to provide this type of support for their pupils.
Obviously, the value of running the Flourish Project with Facilitators will not diminish, but moving to an online platform has enabled us to extend our reach to areas where we have no facilitators, given greater flexibility to schools in accessing the course and trained additional school staff in awareness of mental wellbeing. Flourish Online allows us to impact the lives of more children and young people in a shorter time period. As we emerge from lockdown, Flourish Online and the Flourish Project will work together to enhance our resource basis.
Currently we have a number of schools across the UK taking part in our pilot. Each school receives, for free: 10 licences (for 1 admin and 9 users), an hour’s mental wellbeing awareness training, a user manual and support in using the platform. In return we are looking for teachers to give us feedback and to share their positive experiences on social media. We also have two discussion guides – one suitable for all schools, the other for church maintained schools or Christian groups – which come free with the licences. These materials are for use after completion of each session and include leaders’ notes, handouts for students, practical activities, discussion questions and background information. There is no compulsion for a school or group to use the Discussion Guides but several schools have been keen to do this as they felt it would enable their pupils to get more out of the course.
We are looking for other schools who would like to pilot Flourish Online this academic year – do you have contacts with schools or teachers who could be invited to join us?
Are you able to help meet some of the costs of developing the online platform now and into the future? We have had to pay for this development from our reserves at present.
Would you like to sponsor licences for one of your local schools so that more children and young people can benefit from Flourish Online?